The Role of Women in the Household Economy: The Case of Dorze of Garno Highlands

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This thesis deals with the household economy. It mainly foc uses on Dorze households with particular reference to the role o f women in the ho usehold economy. First, It presents the description o f the socio-economic and geo-political context of the Gamo highland communities in general and that of the D orze in particular. The Gamo highlanders had been relatively isolated from central and northern EthlOpla for centuries. However, they were incorpora ted in to the Ethi pi a~l empire in the last decade o f the 19'h century. The incorporation brought about various changes in the SOCIO - economic life of the highland communities. The Dorze were the most affected people U1 this regard. Though they had the skill of weav ing earlier, weaving has become an important source of income for the majority of Dorze households after the incorporation. This external fac tor encouraged Dorze weavers to migrate to urban centers where better marke t for woven clothes is available. T he spatial mob ility of th e Dorze in turn affects the household structure and econom.ic role o f women at the household level. Different theoretical models have been employed to explain household economic behavior. The th esis deals with the basic assumptions of two household models: the new household economics (N HE) and the model of 'continuous fragmentation' of household. The NH E is the model of pooled household economy. I t ass umes that household members pool income and economic resources which are controlled ancl redistributed by an altruistic household head. The model o f 'continuous fragmentation' assumes that factors such as migration, d.ivorce and polygyny contin uously alter household structure. The change in household structure in turn affec ts th e role and status of women. The central purpose of this thesis is to explore whether the basic assumptions of the two models adequately explain the econornic behavior o f D orze households and the role of women in the household economy. The majority o f Dorze households have separa te economic units. Household members generate income from different sources. Furthermore, they do not pool their income and they have no unified patte rn of household expenditure. Moreover, factors such as migration, d.ivorce and polygyny alter the structure and economic status o f the household, which in turn affects the role and status of women in the household economy. Accordingly, the thesis concludes tha t Dorze household features do no t fit into the theoretical model o f the N HE. However, the model o f continuous fragmentation could adequately explain the behavior of Dorze households. Moreover, it emphasizes the analysis of women's role and status in the household economy. Thus, it could be used to explore the role o f women and other members in the household economy. It also provides researchers with an alternative theoretical framework for the study of households that are continuously affe cted by factors such as migration, d.ivo rce and polygyny.



Dorze, migration, household economy, women's role